Man gets more than 35 years for reckless driving crash in Westlake

Man gets more than 35 years for reckless driving crash in Westlake

A judge sentenced a Cleveland man to 35-and-a-half years in prison for crashing a stolen truck into a crowded Westlake bar.

Brandon Pawlak was sentenced Monday.

On October 23, 2014, employees from an Avon Lake golf club watched Brandon Pawlak and Matthew Sowden, both 27, steal a Ford F-250 from the club's garage. Pawlak drove off in the truck while Sowden followed in his own van.

Avon Lake police pursued Pawlak and Sowden. Sowden was stopped and arrested in Avon, but Pawlak kept going and crossed into Westlake in Cuyahoga County, reaching speeds up to 80 mph and nearly causing several collisions.

Westlake police on Detroit Road put out stop sticks, but they failed to puncture the truck's tires. Pawlak hit a curb, lost control of the truck and crashed into Dover Gardens Tavern.

Two patrons were hit nearly head-on, causing severe lower body injuries. Two bartenders were pinned behind the bar and also sustained multiple lower body injuries. In total, 13 people were injured.

Pawlak was charged with more than 30 counts, including multiple counts of aggravated robbery and aggravated vehicular assault.

"Brandon Pawlak demonstrated a reckless disregard for human life in this case. It's a miracle no one was killed," said Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gregory M. Paul, who represented the State of Ohio along with Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Andrea Isabella. "The victims still have a long road to recovery, and many will carry scars for the rest of their lives. Pawlak's sentence is just for such brazen and dangerous actions."

Co-defendant Sowden pled guilty to one count each of breaking and entering, and grand theft of a motor vehicle. He will be sentenced on September 2.

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